As I mentioned in a “school lunch” post last year, my daughter’s elementary school is peanut/tree nut-free. Not only are peanuts and tree nuts not allowed, but foods made in factories that handle nuts are not allowed either. As a result, the school sends out a “safe snack” list so parents know what store-bought snacks are “safe” and approved.
When I first got a hold of this list last year my eyes just about bugged out of my head. Fresh off our original “100 Days of Real Food” pledge, I felt compelled to sit down and count how many snack suggestions I would consider to be “real food approved.”
Out of the 200 or so safe snack suggestions only 17 items, approximately 7%, were “real” whole foods. The rest were highly processed including suggestions like Wendy’s Frosties, Skittles, Oreos, Fritos, Airheads, Cheese Puffs, Twizzlers, Chips Ahoy, and Gummy Bears (for a morning snack for little kids!!). I knew I couldn’t just sit around and complain. I had to get involved and try to change things.
So I met with the principal and assistant principal last spring and as soon as I said the word “food” they of course thought I wanted to address the food in the cafeteria. They don’t have control over what is served for breakfast or lunch, but I told them that was just fine because I actually had a long list of other things I wanted to address first including…
- The school’s “safe snack” list, which is full of highly processed snack suggestions
- Student rewards and activities, which commonly involve junk food like “Popsicles with the Principal” and “Skittle Sort” (why not a button sort?)
- Students are also commonly served cupcakes, cookies, and other treats for birthdays and celebrations in the classroom. Occasionally even more than one dessert treat a day is served on top of treats that are brought in from home and/or purchased in the cafeteria.
- School fundraising events that encourage students and their families to dine at locations such as Donatos Pizza and Chick-fil-A.
- Box Top class rewards that include a pizza party, Krispy Kreme Donut party, and a cupcake decorating party
Those are just a few of the observations that alarmed me last year, which was our first year with a child in elementary school. It was also our first school year after deciding to cut out all highly processed food, so I guess one could say I was highly sensitive to it all.
Anyway, I was thrilled that the principal immediately handed me the reins of the “safe snack” list without a problem. I then partnered with another mom to come up with an addendum to the list because while they said we could add items to it we could not take anything away.
They said if Krispy Kreme donuts were not on the list as being nut-free then someone would surely send in Dunkin’ Donuts. But a compromise was fine with me. We can keep all the junk on there if we can also put our “healthy snack” addendum smack dab on the front…because I consider that progress.
So without further ado, here is a link to the “snack list addendum” that another mom and I worked very hard to create. Whether you want to use these snack ideas for your school or just for inspiration when packing your own kids snacks please feel free to use the list however you choose.
I’ve already turned it into our principal and so far she says it looks great. I was a little worried the description of “real food” versus “not real food” might offend some parents, but I figured I would let the principal make that call. We have our back-to-school orientation this week, and I am very anxious to see if they actually use our list with the “safe snack” handouts…keeping my fingers crossed!
Next up I hope to address the issue of all the junk food that’s used for rewards and activities by coming up with a list of alternatives. I will keep you posted on the progress!
256 thoughts on “An Elementary School Snack List – Nut-Free”
Well isnt it a good thing that peanuts are not from the NUT family. Good to see that Legumes which peanuts ARE apart of the Legume family are listed on this list. Its been proven that taking removing and becoming “nut free” does not solve any problems as a child with Anaphylaxis.. Its starting to get beyond ridiculous at how many REAL FOOD items that my sons school is removing… this is my sons current list this yr BLUE BERRIES, STRAW BERRIES, ALL STONE FRUIT, WHOLE EGGS and GRAPES….
–I was super excited when I first saw this, but upon review, I would be concerned if this showed up at our school as a “nut-free” list of foods that could be given to nut-allergic children. Some of the items are way too risky for children with nut allergies. For example, your suggestion of “unsweetened raisins” is too vague. Specific brand names are needed, especially as it relates to dried fruit (as this is a particularly risky food item given cross-contact with nuts in facilities and in bulk food containers at grocery stores that are improperly cleaned).
–In addition, the disclaimer to “check the labels to ensure the product is not processed in a facility that also processes nuts” is highly problematic. Facility statements like these are optional. Manufacturers do NOT need to include “may contain” or facility statements on labeling. Unfortunately, just because it doesn’t have one of those statements doesn’t make it safe. See this website for more info on current labeling laws: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/resourcespre.php?id=50
–Finally, if fresh foods are prepared in a kitchen containing nuts, special procedures need to be followed to avoid cross-contact for nut-allergic children. For example, if the same knife that chopped pecans is then used to slice an appleâ€¦ the apple slices may now contain trace amounts of nut protein (and therefore can trigger an allergic reaction). Proper washing and food handling is required. Here is more information on this: http://www.foodallergy.org/cross-contact
–Thank you for encouraging us all to eat healthier. Please forgive me if this is duplicate information. I see you’ve received lots of comments!
What my kids eat is absolutely, 100%, up to me. Not you. Not Michelle Obama. Where someone else’s life is at risk, I will absolutely make changes to what my kids bring to school. Otherwise, you mind your tofu and I’ll mind mine. My kids are allowed to have sugar & that is none of your concern. You do NOT get to dictate what is given as a reward in public school on my behalf. Ever.
This post is pretty hostile. Is so much venom really necessary?
I wholeheartedly agree. This is not hostility or venom…..it’s the parent’s prerogative to decide what their child’s lunch should be, not the federal govenement’s. Are we to assume that parents are ignorant or totally incapable of providing their children with appropriate meals, given their intimate knowledge of their children? What arrogance. The state doesn’t have the right to decide what my child should be required to eat. After all, the state has approved the food pyramid, a faulty paradigm, at best.
I think these are suggestions. Rather than sending home a list with nothing but crap suggestions on it, this list gives parents some healthy suggestions. They are still allowed to send in crap, as long as it doesn’t contain the allergens. I think it’s great! Even if they were the only snacks allowed – good! People can pump their kids full of crap foods when they get home, if that’s what they really want to do.
psht. ‘Sugar’ would be the least of the evils in some food that parents consider acceptable . Here’s an FYI – your kid acts different when they get MSG, TBHQ, BHT, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives etc etc. those things have a real affect on the body of a child with an as of yet undeveloped nervous system or blood brain barrier. I can hear it a mile away and tell you which spazzy little spazzos need a diet change for the sake of the people who have to put up with them and their self control and focus ‘issues’. I can’t even imagine trying to be a teacher to a room full of kids who are off in toxic land. The kids who constantly eat like that don’t even realize they’re ‘drunk’ because there has been a constant supply of garbage food since they could say ‘chicken mc nugget’. Have fun living in your fantasy world… But sending an unruly, disruptive, attention span-less kid to school is not just ‘your tofu’. It’s everyone’s. And if u think food doesn’t do that stuff, talk to me when you’ve solidly eliminated anything artificial for a week…if u even can when your kid acts like a demonized detoxing heroin addict and demands their drug of choice!
I’m reading and enjoying all the different points of view in the comments. The snack list is wonderful and I was delighted to see some affordable choices, including fruits and vegetables. No matter how affluent a school’s base population of families may be, I guarantee you that there will be a couple of families who are trying desperately to stretch food stamps and very limited funds. It was fantastic to see that this list is sensitive to that struggle in all families.
One thing that caught my eye is how upset people are that some schools ban home-made treats in the school, allowing only food from a commercial bakery. The reason for that is usually a concern about Hepatitis being transmitted through food from home. Yes, I know, it seems like overkill, but a school district can and will require their own food service employees to have a physical. This includes, pardon me for being blunt to the point of gross, a stool sample that is tested for such pathogens. Same for commercial food preparation–there are safeguards in place that are supposed to guarantee that such contamination is impossible. It isn’t possible to know that whoever prepared food at home: A. Does not have Hepatitis A. B. Washed their hands properly C. Wore gloves while preparing food.
I know, I know,it seems ridiculous and insulting, but it goes back to Lisa’s school principal-“If Krispy Kreme donuts are not on the list, someone will send Dunkin’ Donuts.” You can’t guarantee the behavior of anyone who isn’t employed by a commercial food preparation source. Yes, I know you can’t even guarantee that, but the thinking behind these rules is that at least there are fewer sources of possible contamination, so it could quickly be identified and eliminated.
This was pretty widely reported upon when these rules began to become commonplace 7 or 8 years ago. It only takes one or two outbreaks of Hepatitis A for school districts to react or overreact.
Is gogo applesauce real food? Every label I have looked at has sugar added, do you know where to find unsweetened?
Hello Erin. Conventional grocery stores usually carry sugar free. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Earth Fare and the like all carry varieties. Gogo applesauce, I believe, is two ingredients: apple and apple juice concentrate. ~Amy
I just received our school’s approved snack list yesterday and like you stated, my eyes just about bugged out of my head. It’s filled with processed food. What makes matters worse, my child is gluten free, and about 90% of the list is gluten based junk. Also, my daughter relies heavily on frequent protein snacks because she is very sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations. There is not a single snack on the list that is a good source of protein. OK, soy butter and sun butter. But that’s it! I just finished emailing a letter to the superintendant, asking for concessions as long as there are no allergens in our snacks. I’m anxiously awaiting her reply.
Thank You!!! For Popcorn, I would like to suggest that it specify plain popcorn or popcorn with real butter and salt or something to that effect. I know too many people who would just buy microwaved popcorn with who knows what flavor if they saw that popcorn was ok.
Hi! We love your blog!!! We just wanted to let you know that we are a “nut free” manufacturer of cookies and cupcakes. All of our products are also Vegan, preservative and filler free and fresh baked. Please go to our website at http://www.sweetalexis.com for more information.
This list is excellent! Can I distribute this to the families in my k-5 building?
You may physically print material to share with your friends, a work or church group, etc. in limited numbers, provided that you clearly state â€œCourtesy of http://www.100DaysofRealFood.comâ€ at the top or bottom of EACH page (in a header or footer), and provided of course that you do not sell the material for any fee or compensation.”
Thank you for this post. I am a new to your site and really enjoyed this article on “real food” in school. I have tried very hard to keep our family diet VERY CLEAN and even then am just discovering my daughter (age 4) is showing signs of several food sensitivities. My twin boys recently came home with a “wagon wheel” as a “treat” from their teacher for doing a job well done. A WAGON WHEEL? Really? They are in a new school and in grade one and we just moved to a large city from a small town and this is new to us. I was unaware teachers gave (what I call) poison as a treat. I was instantly angry and my son sadly gave me his “treat” after I explained, again, how sugar affects our bodies. After discussing this with his teacher it was left that my boys will be given something different as a reward. Now I have singled them out amongst their peers because I believe in raising healthy kids? How does that work? (Sarcasm)
Thank you for posting this. At this moment I feel as if I am the only parent in their class that is actually aware of what “real food” is. I hope I am wrong.
This product is made in a peanut/tree nut free facility. They take toasted oats and cover them with creamy soybutter…comes out like a granola product and is really great tasting. Send your address to the e-mail and I will make sure your daughters school will receive samples. In a 32gram serving 140 Calories 4grams sugar 5grams protein PLEASE check this product out.
Could labeling this a “safe” snack list without it being signed off by a licensed physician whose primary focus is on children with food allergies….open you up to a lawsuit? I just ask this after reading comments from Lori. OK. I see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, but still wanted to ask if you could elaborate on the legal angle. Also, I love all the fruit ideas. However, our school requires pre-packaged foods to be brought for snack so all ingredients can be read on the label. So…for fruit and raw veggies…are you allowed to wash and cut those items up to bring to school? Or do you have to buy a fruit or veggie tray that was prepared by your local grocer? Love this site. Haven’t gotten to 100% real food yet, but still much better than 6 months ago. Thanks!
Hi there Karie. Beyond the disclaimer, I am not sure what you are looking for regarding legalities? As for the fruits and veggies, anything we send in for our OWN children can be cut up, homemade, etc. as long as we label it clearly with specific ingredients that have not been not been processed/packaged in a nut facility. If it is something that will be shared with the classroom, it has to be store bought, or purchased through our school cafeteria and labeled with ingredients and clearly processed without nuts. Hope that helps. ~Amy
Lisa had contacted me in regards to my post on the nut-free list. Thank you for your concern. With food allergies, cross-contamination in food is a serious concern for allergic people as it can trigger a severe reaction.
The “Eden Organic” brands and Clif Kid foods should be removed. While some companies say their food is “nut free” the food is produced in a facility with nuts or other allergens. The danger of dried fruits is that most of them are produced with nuts because dried fruits and nuts go hand in hand.
I realize it is an inconvenience for parents of non-allergic kids to pack healthy foods your child will eat and then have to accomodate allergies. I understand because as a parent of a nut allergic child, we have to eliminate many foods my child would love but cannot eat. It is tough to plan and shop ahead, but it does get easier with practice.
Our school isn’t nut free, but children are instructed not to share foods and wash your hands and mouth after lunch and snacks. This helps to create a safer school environment.
I do appreciate reading this site and all the great ideas that help with cooking, healthier eating and nutrition education. Thank you Lisa for this site!
And Denise, I do live in the Bay area and my tone wasn’t about an out of date list, but when you have a food allergic child, you will understand.
Wow. I realize I live in la la land (SF Bay Area) but I can’t fathom a teacher giving a kid a Ring Pop, or Krispy Kremes being offered as a school snack. WTF? That’s just crazy.
I found this site because I was looking for additional ideas for school snacks–I get burn-out!
And Lori, calm down. There’s a much nicer way to tell them the list might be out of date.
While I love what you are doing to change the way our kids eat from over-processed to healthy foods, you should remove your “nut free” of foods for schools. As a parent of a severe nut allergy child, your list is NOT NUT FREE!!!! You obviously did not CONSULT an allergist or expert in food allergies. You are misleading parents into believing your list is “nut free”. To define, “nut free” does not mean just foods free of nuts. It also means foods that are “not processed in a facility containing nuts.” You are endangering many nut allergic kids. PLEASE PUT A DISCLAIMER ON YOUR LIST. The dried fruits on your list are processed in nut facility and could cause anaphylaxis in many allergic kids. PLEASE REMOVE YOUR LIST!!!!!!!
Hi Lori – When this list was created, ALL brands listed were checked to be nut free AND not processed in a facility containing nuts. However, as Lisa mentioned in her Facebook post on August 28th, “please do remember to always double-check packages though because things do change!” I’m going to add this note to the list, and would appreciate you telling me the specific dried fruit product on the list you found that has changed so I can remove it. Thanks – Jason
Please remove mango, Native Forest Mango Chunks, Organic Just Mango from this list. Mango is in the cashew family and would cause anaphylaxis. The cashew is in the cashew botanical family along with mango and pistachio.
Please excuse my typo. Mango is in the cashew family and could cause anaphylaxis to someone with a tree nut allergy.
Donna – I have been researching this statement and have not been able to verify it so mango will continue to stay on our list. Thanks for your concern.
Thank you Lisa for your quick reply and investigation. I only mention this because my grand daughter has a nut allergy. I bought her a mango smoothie and she had a reaction. Afterwards we learned that mangoes are in the same botanical family as cashew and pistachio. Here are a couple websites that note this connection. http://home.allergicchild.com/top-8-tree-nuts/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/535156-cashew-mango-allergies/
ok one more time…I live in newtown ct….every heard of it…we had a little incident 12/14/1012…never to be forgotten. horrible, day, week , month and soon to be b a year…[living hear I see, hear and remember every part of that hooible day, if you don’t live here you have no ideas…sorry but its true.
I think this is a little obnoxious. Can’t you just push fruit? The preferred organic makes me, someone who does eat healthy but is on a strict budget, want to throw my computer into the wall. If my child was in public school and they sent that home, I would be annoyed by the yuppy who sending it home. I have a child with food allergies, multiple food allergies, but I still find this annoying.
And agreed, I have to special order sunflower seeds just to find some that aren’t cross contaminated for my peanut allergic son. And I was told to avoid hummus due to the tahini and sesame seed cross contamination.
I love your list with the exception of the fundraising events. They are not on school hours, not in school facilities and parents can choose to participate and choose what to order. For many schools in our area, Chick fil A spirit nights provide badly needed funds to buy school supplies and pay for field trips for kids who can’t afford them. They also go towards teacher supplies so they don’t have to spend their already too-low salaries buying classroom supplies. I think there needs to be balance in everything and one night of eating out, especially when you can get a veggie thin crust pizza or grilled nuggets and applesauce, is not going to hurt anyone’s diet. Or you can just not go and let other parents make their own decision. Proposing to end these entirely does more harm than good and I hope you will direct your energy to the other items on your list, which should definitely be addressed.
I was wondering if there was an alternative to peanut butter that you recommend? We are in a peanut free school and am trying to educate myself on safe alternatives. I picked up some sunflower seed butter (Sunbutter) from the grocery store that states that it was made in a peanut free facility. I know that peanuts are legumes but there can be cross-reactivity to tree nuts (and sunflower seeds are seeds). I just definitely do not want to pack something that will harm another child. This is all new to me… any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Kris I am a mom of two kids with peanut/tree nut allergies so I wanted to give you an answer since no one has yet. Sunbutter is a GREAT alternative. My kids eat Sunbutter sandwiches almost every day.
Yes, Sunbutter…and, Lisa uses cream cheese a lot. Not that it replaces peanut butter but it is good for making sandwich combinations. ~Amy
Thank you so much for your response. I just wanted to make sure that the sunbutter was ok before sending. My kids don’t have any allergies (that we know of)… so this is all new to me. I appreciate your advice. Thanks again!
Also, be sure to look for a sunbutter that is not processed in a peanut facility.
Thanks!… yes… the one I have says produced in a peanut-free facility. I also asked the school if the product that I bought was acceptable (just to make extra sure… and to make sure there were no stated allergies to sunflower seeds in our class). Thanks again!
Sunbutter brand sunflower seed spread is safe for children who are allergic to peanuts as is Wow Butter- which is soy based. I don’t know if Wow Butter is considered a real food, though. http://www.soybutter.com/wowbutter.html
Hi, just a comment or inquiry regarding Triscuit’s. I know that the ingredient list is less than 5 so under your definition it’s “real” food, but I’m concerned about the fact that it’s made with soybean oil and mono and diglycerides. Soybean oil because it’s non organic and therefore most likely GMO and the fats (mono and di) because of the oils they’re typically derived from such as soybean, cottonseed, palm or sunflower. And in some cases could be considered an “incidental” additive.
Is this something that you’ve looked into and if so, what are your thoughts on these ingredients?
Hi Krista. Since creating this list, Lisa is much more likely to purchase Ak Mak whole wheat crackers or whole wheat matzo than Triscuits. Here is a link to information about the product: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/04/21/for-convenience-the-best-store-bought-snacks-ii/. ~Amy
Thanks so much for these ideas! My daughter is starting K in a couple weeks, and quite honestly I’m horrified that school use sweets as rewards.
This list looks VERY familiar to me. Could it possibly be from the http://www.BetterSchoolFood.org website? I was the founder of that non profit group that operated in the mid 2000’s. We created a downloadable snack list that looked very very much like this one.
Susan – are you referring to the list under the download tab on your website?
The ONLY similarity I see us a list of raw fruits and vegetables.
Lisa’s list not only contains fruits and vegetables, but goes on to list BRAND-SPECIFIC options for a complete and comprehensive list if nut-free snack options.
Perhaps I read your comment wrong and you are, in fact, not accusing Lisa of plagiarizing your list of fruits and vegetables; however, as an independent reader of both lists I thought I’d weigh in and say I see nothing that would lead me to believe the list on 100 Days and your list are at all similar (beyond, of course, a concerted effort to list healthy, nut-free snack options for our children).
Susan – Another mom (at our school) and I sat down and brainstormed together to come up with this list. If your list has a lot of fruits and veggies there are honestly only so many so that may be why you thought it looked similar. If I used another source for inspiration I would most definitely credit it in the post.
Hi Mary. In Lisa’s words: “The thing is even cooking is technically a form of processing or changing your food so unless you are on a raw food diet, which we are not, we are all eating food thatâ€™s been somewhat â€œprocessedâ€. So maybe it would be better to say we avoid all highly processed foods, which, to draw the line somewhere, we define as having more than 5 (or any refined) ingredients.” Here are our real food rules in detail: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/. Hope that clarifies. ~Amy
Hi there! I have been loosely following some of the things that you are posting. I think it is awesome that you are working to make positive changes at your kids schools and helping to implement healthier options- way to go!
I did have some confusion, though, about your emphasis on Cutting out Processed Foods and the majority of the snacks listed on this page and on several of your meal plans. As far as I am aware and concerned things like Triscuits, crackers, and most everything else under “100% Whole Grains” are all processed foods and there is not really anything Natural about it, even if all of the ingredients are Organic.
I catch myself buying Organic “snack” products all the time because I prefer to support the Brands providing a “Better” option but I still understand that cereals, crackers, waffles, rice crackers, etc. are all still highly processed in factories by machines. You seem like you really know what you are talking about so I am wondering if maybe you have done the research and discovered that brands sold at Natural Grocers do in fact have less processing than their non-organic counterparts??
Nonetheless I admire your initiative and creativity! There are so many wonderful options listed. Small steps turn into lifelong decision making for kids and I think that targeting youth in the Sustainable and Healthy Foods movement is really the absolute best way to see drastic, long term changes in the way our society thinks about food. Keep up the good work! ~Mary Lane
Hi Mary. In Lisaâ€™s words: â€œThe thing is even cooking is technically a form of processing or changing your food so unless you are on a raw food diet, which we are not, we are all eating food thatâ€™s been somewhat â€œprocessedâ€. So maybe it would be better to say we avoid all highly processed foods, which, to draw the line somewhere, we define as having more than 5 (or any refined) ingredients.â€ Here are our real food rules in detail: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/. Hope that clarifies. ~Amy
My son’s school just went nut-free. I have picky/light eater who already gets plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Where on your list do you show foods with protein? The only reason I send PB sandwiches and crackers is for the protein. My son won’t eat meat sandwiches or cheese. How can he get the protein he needs as a main course without peanut butter? Thanks.
Hi Katherine. I am assuming you are speaking here of lunch concerns rather than just snacks? This post might help with your protein concerns: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/09/19/why-are-americans-so-concerned-about-protein/. Outside of that, have you considered boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, Lisa’s chicken nuggets, various soups, spaghetti and meatballs, as well as seeds and Sunbutter? Also, take a look at our School Lunch Round-Ups(1-4) as well as the recipe index: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/19/school-lunch-roundup/ and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-resources/recipe-index/. Best of luck. ~Amy
Your list is fantastic, however some of the name brands you mention may contain trace peanuts and tree-nuts. Kashi is one of them, and as mentioned by another sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are commonly cross contaminated. however there are a couple brands nut free. My son has a severe allergen to nuts, and yes there are common protein properties linked with some fruit and vegetables that could cause reactions. Anyone concerned about it should speak with their immunologist and obtain a breakdown list of what they could be be. As depending on how severe the allergen maybe how severe the reaction with linked fruit and vegetables. And who is to say there will be a reaction there maybe none. my son loves mangoes and has no troubles eating them. However he has troubles eating lima beans, kiwis at times and even under ripe bananas and there are a few more but you will never know unless you do controlled testing either. I hate living in a bubble with my son as much as he does. My son regularly asks to be normal. This past year we tried eating crab a less severe allergen, and you know what it was cloud nine for my 6 year old he had no reaction. I learned how through our immunologist, it is quite easy. test on the arms allow a few minutes to transpire if nothing proceed to the face around the mouth area. again allow time, I allowed up to 20 minutes, if nothing again a small taste and left it till the next day to see, then a day later maybe a bite and left for the next couple days to see if any side effects happened. I have ruled out many things this way. The only thing I will not touch are the nuts. They are life threatening so I do my best to minimize or eliminate possible reactions from all possible foods so that according to my immunologist he may grow out of it. Allergies to foods are horrible, people never take them seriously. As for some reason people can be educated but until you physically see it people do not believe. If you can not feel, see, or hear it many people completely ignore it. unfortunately this could cost a child their life. Therefore my point is regardless of how fabulous anything is READ each label if your buying processed. And know the difference of where things originate. Many things made in China are not acceptable for nut sufferers, as the factories cross contaminate everything. When I go and visit China you can not find fresh meat in the grocery stores that are not labelled with cross contamination warning with nuts/ shellfish and more. If you do not make it, do not trust it, is my theory. I read everything, and wash my fruits and vegetables. I also make alot of our treats, cookie dough is freezable and you know whats in it. Most baked goods I make and freeze as I can and thaw as needed. I work full time shift work as well. So yes I know the convenience of pre made food, I also have suffered the repercussions. Every single one of you as parents of a child that suffers from allergens of some sort, remember you are doing the best for your childs welfare and doing a great job. Do as much as you can yourself. Teach your child it is only safe to eat what is taken from home and why. And do not share food period, but try and have their input on what they can take, makes it less demanded of them and more their choice. And continue speaking out to the school about your concerns. Heck I went to every lunch hour because the last school wouldn’t abide by there own policy. As others stated get letters from the doctors stating how severe the allergen is, take it to the school board as they make the by-laws and if the school in their district is not upholding it they will deal with it. Along with documenting the issues as they arise. Then if you have had no resolve try the local ombudsmen, they may have more leverage with these issues and enforcing by-laws. It isn’t easy living in the world that has been created around us now a days but we can try to do our best, that is all anyone can expect. Read each label and teach your kids. good luck to all.
Thank you, Lisa! I hope I can share this with my daughter’s preschool class!
Our school only allows fruit and vegetables for snack. No treats can be brought in for birthdays. I think all schools should do this.
Thanks for the list. We are told that school is nut free but not given a list so I am happy to see ideas for packing snacks. I understand everyone’s issues with the junky stuff on the lists but keep in mind not everyone believed what you do and guidelines are need for everything. Just like we want all whole foods in the list, other moms might want foods that fit the category. We don’t like it when people call us crazy for trying eat whole we should judge them for feeding nonwhole. I do wish treats were not the sugar variety and teachers should respect a parent who does not want there kids feed that. I am sorry you think it bring social stigma for getting something else but they will have it for there entire lives when eating like this. Talk to them about being proud in their choices and not judgmental. I have a daughter with a severe egg allergy. I am teacher her at 2 what she can and cannot eat. To a level, it’s our job as parents to teach them what is right and wrong for them, not ruin it for all kids.
Thank you Amy. I completely agree with you. It is our job to teach our children how to navigate a world full of dangers, not change the world to protect them. I absolutely agree with a nut-free school and take no issue with it at all. My problem is when our school bans ALL food celebrations because 4 parents don’t want their children to eat certain foods. It’s excessive, extreme, and infringes on the rights of my child. A list such as this and guidelines for celebrations would have been a wonderful alternative. Sadly, we seem to be a society of extremes. For our school, it’s all or nothing.
I have a severe peanut allergy that came about when I was 36! I’m well versed in this problem. I can’t believe chinese food is on any list because of the cross contamination.
No, mango won’t bring about an allergic reaction, but if you are allergic to peanuts, you are also allergic to peas and lima beans. Chick peas aren’t peas, they are beans, so that’s not a problem either.
And mostly…awesome list. I’m using it for myself!
Legumes and peanut allergies often coexist, but often they don’t as well. My daughter is allergic solely to peanuts but eats lima beans and chick peas frequently with no effect.
I’ve been told that kids with tree nut allergies may also be allergic to mango. Any thoughts on this?
The mango has a similar makeup to cashews, so we were told by my daughter’s allergist, after she avoided tree nuts, but had mango which resulted in an allergic reaction.
My son starts Kindergarten this Fall and I am really anxious about encountering problems like these. I am so grateful for your help and for the fact that you are blazing the trail for the rest of us!
While these suggestions are wonderful, many pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are cross contaminated with tree and peanuts, so you will have to read the labels. I use Now Real Foods pumpkin seeds for my tree nut allergic son. I would double check the trader joe’s dried fruit items, too.
Thank you for this list. Our school (where I work and both my children attend) is going peanut-free. I’ve written a letter to parents explaining our decision to make this change and have been busily searching for a list of peanut-free snack and lunch ideas for our families to help ease the transition. I was very disappointed to find that every list I could find included CANDY not to mention mostly processed foods. Thanks so much for creating this list and thanks so much for sharing.
Amy-I agree with you. We briefly had my son in school last year, and I had the same problem. They’d load him up with sugar (Krispy Kremes were apparently a class favorite) and preservatives, then wonder why he wouldn’t behave in class???? I’m still shaking my head. He was diagnosed Add/Adhd/Odd. We’ve been working really hard to reduce preservatives and chemicals in his diet, figuring “it couldn’t hurt.” I got further upset when I requested an IEP (which they never finished!) and they had the NERVE to say to me “have you considered an organic diet?” What good does that do, when snack time, parties, and rewards are anything BUT organic. Ugh. Not to mention the social stigma or not being able to eat what the other kids are eating. Luckily, my husband an pediatrician agreed homeschool was best for him afterall, and we brought him back home where I can not only educate him but teach him healthy eating habits. Have you had any resolution?
Hi, thanks for the great post! I was updating our schools NUT FREE class list and wanted to add items to it for variety. Your post came up so I cross referenced : ) I am having the opposite challenge, I am being asked to ADD items that are more junky. I have ours divided into EVERYDAY SNACKS and SPECIAL OCCASION TREATS so that parents know the difference. But for the class parties/Treats, I only list companies that are organic, minimally processed (or as good as you get for a cookie anyway) but they are cost prohibitive for some. They are asking me to put Oreos and Chips Ahoy on the list! Yuk. I have many of the Pepperidge Farms cookies listed that are Nut Free and thought that would suffice. I am looking for other options that are minimally processed, still a treat, and not expensive. We also have a Culture of Care guideline regarding sustainability, so no individual packaging items etc..
I want to thank you for all of your hard to make changes in our schools. As a mom with a child that has a severe peanut allergy, this means more than you can imagine! My sons preschool has been a little difficult to deal with regarding food items that may contain traces of nuts. I had noticed on the list that hummus was on there? I was told by a nutritionist that my son was to avoid hummus due to the chick peas and the high incidence of cross pollinization with peanuts? I wasn’t sure if maybe the particular brand you mentioned was considered peanut safe. If it is, that’s wonderful because I’m always looking for new things for him to try!!
Hi Amy. I am not sure about the cross contamination of chick peas with peanuts. Sorry I can’t provide any further info. Jill
I don’t know about cross pollination either, but you can substitute white beans for the chickpeas in hummus! It is a very simple recipe to make at home if you have any kind of blender or food processor. Hope you try it out!
I have a huge problem with my son in this situation. His body cant handle food colorings, artificial flavors and perservitives. He has some of the same rules at his school, no nuts and only store bought snacks. Plus they do food rewards! Having to take a ringpop away from him every Friday is upsetting to him and I both. His teacher knows about his strict diet but gives him things anyway. Its very upsetting because he acts out when he does have these things. Like ADD with severe mood swings. And then I get pulled aside for his behavior. I pack all his food for school but still he’s given ‘treats’. This week and today of all days has been very stressful with the shooting in CT. My son wandered out into the hall by himself after his teacher and aide found out about it. His holiday party is next week and each child had to donate $5 so the class could have food from Taco Bell, Little Cesears, and a Chinese food place. $5 a student with 17 students?! That’s $85.00 to feed 17 4and5 year olds. I would have gladly put together holiday party food for his class for lot less, but was not allowed since it all has to be store bought and all the other classes are doing the same food. We’re in a low income area (inner city almost) so it’s difficult to try and have people understand that these things are bad for him. I don’t know what do do anymore since his school wont listen.
Hi Amy. I’m so sorry you are having such a tough time with his school. Is it worth speaking to your pediatrician? Perhaps you can get a medical note to try and help the school understand that your child cannot medically have these foods. It sounds like you are trying to speak to the school…I would just stay on top of that as well. Sorry I can’t provide further insight. Jill
Having been a classroom teacher who tried to use healthy incentives and rewards, I still faced students with dietary restrictions. In situations where there were severe allergies or issues with additives, preservatives, and such, I asked the parents to send in separate “treats” for their child. I’ve known other teachers to do this as well. You, as the parent, know what you’d like to be used as rewards as well as what your child likes. You may have already found some resolution with your child’s current teacher, but I just read this post.
Amy this is for you, i faced the same issue with my kid who is now 81/2 yrs old. every good behavior at school was rewarded with food, being allergic to food dyes and all processed food my kid would get severe skin reactions, sleepless nights and would miss school, about 30-40 days in the whole year.
When we were called for meeting with class teacher, principle, school nurse, counselor all together at the same time reason being that i was not responsible parent and she was missing so much school, i fought with them for offering my kid treats that affected her health. food offered by them was making her sick and miss school.
Then the nurse drew a medical plan for her which would travel with her from school to school ( if we moved), which clearly stated what food allergies she has, how she reacts to the wrong food given and that if any food was offered to her other than that sent from home, the person giving her will be held responsible.
Signature was taken from class teacher, nurse.
when we changed school in 2012 this plan traveled with her to new school, teacher knew what to expect.
Hi – this list is FANTASTIC! thanks so much for pulling it together. i appreciate that you listed up front how you define “real food” as so many people define it differently. i think it’d be impossible to all agree so think it’s important to at least be clear and transparent in the parameters you are using to make recommendations. all that said, a few things on this list stumped me. for example, kashi 7 grain frozen waffles. Curious how/why you felt this qualified? Would love to find a frozen waffle that I could recommend to my daughters preschool so eager to understand. Same goes for Kashi heart to heart whole grain crackers. Thank you!!!
Kashi Waffles ingredients:Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Kashi Seven Whole Grain Flour (Whole: Oats, Hard Red Wheat, Rye, Brown Rice, Triticale, Barley, Buckwheat), Oat Fiber, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Cracked Grain Flour (Rye Meal, Wheat Bran, Whole Wheat Flour, Barley Flakes, Steel Cut Oats, Rolled Oatmeal, Yellow Corn Meal, Millet, Rice Flour), Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Egg Whites, Contains Two Percent Or Less Of Ground Flaxseed, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Molasses, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Whey, Soy Lecithin)
Thanks for your feedback. Not every item on this list follows our real food rules to a T, but I was working with another mom and we were doing our best to keep the list “realistic” so others would be more likely to follow it. The waffles are whole-grain and that’s the reason they were included.